Loving uncertainty

Ben in the driver’s seat

I opened my car door yesterday and Ben was sitting in the driver’s seat, looking like he belonged there. I was thrilled that he stayed long enough for me to take out my iPhone and snap his picture. But just the surprise of seeing him in that unusual place, is what really made me smile.

I remember reading a parable once that went something like this:

A man died and as he realized this, he also realized that he was standing in the middle of everything he had ever wanted: a magnificent home, an endless stream of money, his body fit and firm, every desire was fully manifested.  That afternoon, his friend picked him up to play golf and every shot he took was a hole in one. Every woman he was at all interested in was interested back.

Anything he wanted instantly appeared, and he loved this…for about a week. But he started to get bored so he decided to grow a garden and every seed he put into the soil instantly became a full-grown plant with fruit. One day, he was talking to one of the “spirit guides” in his new-found land and he said, “I am bored out of my mind. I need a project to work on. I need work that I can really grapple with and solve.” The guide answered, “There isn’t any work here.” The man became angry and replied  “This is hell!” and the guide said, “Where did you think you were?”

Part of us always wants to know (now) what the future is going to bring (and exactly how it is going to happen), and yet the larger part of us knows that the surprise and delight of this world, far outweigh certainty. As much as we would like (at times) things to be “all zipped up”, signed, sealed and delivered, another part of us loves the adventure of being here now, of figuring things out, with all of these other human beings, animals, plants, projects, ideas, circumstances and events that come together in ways that astound us.

Without the element of uncertainty, the bringing off of even, the greatest business triumph would be dull, routine, and eminently unsatisfying“. J. Paul Getty

18 thoughts on “Loving uncertainty

  1. Such a cute picture of Ben and what a great thought for the day Thanks Mary

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  2. How lovely to see the usually elusive Ben, especially as he looks to be supremely contented and comfortable!

    Embracing uncertainty is something I am becoming more comfortable with for myself, and your suggestions today will help me continue to put a positive spin on the uncertainties that keep cropping up in my life! Maybe I can spend less time trying to avoid them and more time relishing their challenges!

    Thank you Mary for the picture of Ben and your acceptance of his presence as a gift, when many people would have been dismayed at having a cat in their car! Paw prints, fur, yikes!

    Love from Fran

  3. As soon as I read your subject line, Mary, I chuckled. I wondered where you were going with this one. Sure enough, I’m still smiling. How true that I do like everything secure, controlled and yet I am more attracted to and challenged by people’s minds which as we all know, can be quite unpredictable. Yesterday, after having as my B&B guests, a lecturer, and his wife,who has just written a book on General Brock and the War of 1812, the gentleman who sponsored their stay here overnight, came to pay me. In the very short course of conversation I found that at 26 he had gone back to school and graduated with a degree in history and before I knew it, we were standing on the front porch talking about a book, which he is going to loan me, on a writer’s theory of how migration developed from China towards the west and how the Chinese had sailed around the world before Columbus. A half hour later we were still having a stimulating conversation. So, yes, the unexpected, the uncertainties of life can be refreshing….when they have a positive spin to them. I just don’t like the negative ones.
    SandyP in Canada

    • So well said Sandy (and I don’t like the negative ones either!)…I’m sending a smile back your way this morning!

  4. Dear Mary. This post is particularly poignant for me as I am in the middle of an exciting project….one in which my mind is continually wanting to figure everything out and race to the finished outcome. Thank you for the timely reminder to enjoy the journey along with it’s lessons, ups, downs and complicated twists and turns. Staying within the moment and allowing things to unfold will now be easier as I remind myself of your words and inspiring insights this morning. Thank you!

  5. Are you psychic, Mary? I’m experiencing a whirlwind of emotions (up, down, over, and under) with someone. I look at myself as self-controlled, self-assured, and calm. And usually I am. But within the last few weeks, I’ve been thrown completely off balance. I’ve been practicing (and the key word here is “practice”) surrender, faith, patience and acceptance for more than 7 years now and while I’m better than I used to be, something like this serves as a reminder to keep practicing. Your post is EXACTLY the message I needed to receive today. Thank you!!!!

    • Thank you Laurie… I really appreciate your comment more than you could know!

  6. Mary – I laughed out loud as I read the parable you shared today. And I have to ask the same question Laurie did – are you psychic? Early this morning I was walking with the dogs and something was really weighing on my mind. I kept thinking that I wished it was resolved, wondering when it’s going to be “zipped up”. There was a part of me that said to leave it alone, to enjoy the sunrise and the dogs but it was an admittedly weak voice. Your post helped me put this issue in perspective – no small feat! Thank you.

    P.S. I just wanted to acknowledge all the wonderfully supportive messages I received concerning our trip to TN. We safely covered 1600 miles over 8 days and we’re all doing well with the transition. It truly helped to know the “little red wagon” was trailing our vehicles. Thanks so much!

  7. Dear Mary, Ever since my husband entered a nursing home, I’ve been on a roller-coaster of emotions, trying to deal with mountains of paperwork and at the same time continuing with the work begun several years ago of “purging” our many possessions so that the children won’t have to do it after we’re gone. Imagine the shock of recognition yesterday when I read in the daily horoscope in the newspaper, “Things are progressing as they should.”

    Today’s message reminds me to stop obsessing and take it one day at a time.
    Thank you.

  8. Mary, I will echo the others who say this message is exactly what I needed to see today! Trying to sort out my fall classes while committed full time to my wonderful “literacy tutor” job through AmeriCorps~ I don’t know how I will do it all and still do it well. Now, I will stop worrying about it and simply proceed with prayer and a positive attitude. Thank you!

  9. One of my favorite quotes: “Not by appointment do we meet delight, it heeds not our expectancy; but suddenly ’round the streets of life it clasps us by surprise”!

  10. When I was driving yesterday on the freeway, I was thinking how different life was before the age of cellphones (not to mention all the other instant ways of connection, – emails, Skype-ing, Facebook, Twitter) – Was there more uncertainty? Yes, maybe. . . – Would so and so be waiting for us at the airport if we arrived late? We couldn’t email back then or pick up our cell the minute the plane landed, nor were their constant flight status updates on the computer. But somehow everything worked out. We were in some ways more connected than we are now, judging from the number of people I see texting frantically everywhere while in the supposed company of a friend or even worse, a child. We miss out on surprises, too, – when we check out a restaurant’s menu online before even arriving at the door. I admit, I’ve done that, and then wonder why? Having to wait for something, too, is part of life’s revealing her surprises and joys to us, ‘all in good time.’ I am not surprised we are biologically programmed to carry our babies for nine whole months of pregnancy (still thinking how radiant our Mary looked in yesterday’s photo with Tommy) – Would we really appreciate the sacred gift of life were we able to pop Junior out in a month say? And the accompanying pain – again, a reminder that life is worth struggling for, worth our blood, swear and tears, and in the days before ultrasound, the biggest uncertainty of all, BOY or GIRL! was Nature’s greatest surprise of all.

  11. I’m not especially fond of uncertainty. However, I do like the ‘mystery’ of what’s going to unfold next, so I guess I’d like to have my cake and eat it, too. (But I could use about one week in ‘Hell’ just to try it out for fun)!

    Good post, Mary! And I’m loving Ben chillin’ in the car. 🙂

  12. “Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It’s as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself — indeed, you make yourself — through the puzzling dilemmas you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers.” Rob Brezsny.

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